by Tom Emerick

First posted on Cracking Health Costs on 01/31/2013

Tom Emerick, Host of Cracking health Care Costs

While perhaps humanitarian, “prevention” does not save money. Evidence of that is piling up and should no longer be ignored by responsible benefit managers. A good Reuters article was published about that in FOXNews.  Click here to read the article.

According to a Health Affairs report quoted in the article.”...if 90 percent of the U.S. population used proven preventive services, more than do now, it would save only 0.2 percent of health care spending.”  A whole 0.2 percent savings?  Whoop-de-do.

…said economist Austin Frakt of Boston University. ‘But it’s not plausible to think you can cut healthcare spending through preventive care. This is widely misunderstood.’ ”

Further, according to the article, “Currently, many people who do not benefit from a preventive service receive it, paying something for nothing. Studies have calculated those numbers, which can be surprisingly high.

Why do I keep pounding on prevention failures in this blog? I get asked that question a lot.

The answer is simple.  Companies are facing a crisis in health care costs, yet spending zillions trying to save money through prevention, when they really need to be doing things that will actually save money. One thing you can do is to focus your energy on the outliers in your benefit plans. Make sure they have the right diagnoses and treatment plans. That will save big dollars.

Tom Emerick

Coming soon:  Cracking Health Costs, the book, to be published by John Wiley & Sons.  The authors are myself and Al Lewis.  Click here to pre-reserve at a deeply discounted price.

Tom Emerick is the President of Emerick Consulting, LLC, and Partner and Chief Strategy Officer with Laurus Strategies, a Chicago-based consulting firm.  Prior to starting his consulting career, Tom was with Walmart Stores, where his last position was Vice President, Global Benefit Design, which involved designing and managing benefits for over 1.3 million employees in the U.S., and 300,000 plus in international. For about six years, Tom also headed up Walmart’s Six Sigma and process improvement initiatives. Prior to Walmart, Tom had positions with Burger King Corporation, British Petroleum, and American Fidelity Assurance Company. In 2009, Tom was named by Healthspottr as one of the top 100 innovators in healthcare the US for his work on medical ethics.  In December 2012, Tom was listed in as one of 13 unsung heroes changing healthcare forever.

Patricia Salber MD, MBA (@docweighsin)
Patricia Salber, MD, MBA is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Doctor Weighs In. She is also the CEO of Health Tech Hatch, the sister site of TDWI that helps innovators tell their stories to the world. She is also a physician executive who has worked in all aspects of healthcare including practicing emergency physician, health plan executive, consultant to employers, CMS, and other organizations. She is a Board Certified Internist and Emergency Physician who loves to write about just about anything that has to do with healthcare.


  1. The wellness company’s health risk assessment I just completed suggested I undertake 21 diagnostic tests, including the discredited PSA. And I stated my health as “excellent,” noted that I am a nonsmoker, light drinker, exercise quite a bit (not a lot of 56-year-olds play ultimate frisbee), eat well and have good blood values. Not quite sure where the savings from prevention comes in, and there is the very large possibility of false-positives.

    Oh, yes, and it also recommended weight loss, which should get a chuckle out of anyone who has ever seen me in person.


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